House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) unloaded the House GOP’s first subpoenas a month into the new majority, demanding records about certain Biden administration decisions regarding threats against school officials during the COVID-19 pandemic, Politico reports. Jordan sent subpoenas to Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona — requesting a laundry list of documents by March 1. The subpoenas are linked to a long-held GOP claim that federal agencies “targeted” parents. It stems from a memo sent by Garland in 2021 about a “spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” against school officials. Garland and the FBI have rejected the GOP accusation — which fact checkers have also deemed false — saying their focus was on protecting school board members amid sharply escalating threats of violence, with no emphasis on parents or those raising policy concerns about COVID restrictions.
The subpoenas primarily seek communications between top FBI and Justice Department officials, outside advocates and the Department of Education. Despite the March 1 deadline, subpoenas typically give way to further negotiation that results in shifting due dates and a narrower scope of document production. Jordan’s quick-trigger finger on the subpoenas underscores the adversarial posture that is likely to define the GOP’s investigations of the Biden administration. It illustrates Jordan’s effort to maximize his leverage ahead of a potential brawl with the administration over access to sensitive documents. It’s the first test of the Biden administration’s willingness to cooperate with some of the Republican-led House investigations that Democrats largely regard as rooted in conspiracy theories and grievance politics. The administration has repeatedly insisted that it will take the GOP House’s oversight requests seriously and attempt to negotiate document production when possible. Democrats and the White House immediately hit back at Jordan — saying he was marshaling his powerful gavel in pursuit of right-wing conspiracy theories that had largely been debunked.